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TWA to shut JFK airport terminal

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Less than a week after its new parent company announced it is cutting at least 20,000 jobs, the chairman of TWA said Monday the airline will close its terminal and lay off its staff at John F. Kennedy International Airport two months earlier than planned.

American Airlines announced in January it was buying the assets of TWA, which is now operating as its subsidiary. American, American Eagle and TWA have 138,000 employees.

"Effective October 7, American will operate all JFK flights from the AA terminals with AA airplanes," said Chairman Bob Baker in a statement to TWA employees. "This means we will close the TWA terminal in October, rather than in December as we planned.

"Unhappily, this means we must give furlough notices to all TWA airport and maintenance employees at Kennedy. Flight attendants and pilots are expected to be furloughed as well.

"Employment decisions in those latter workgroups are being made separately and will be announced as they are made."

Baker called the decision to accelerate the terminal's closing "difficult and serious." His plan, he said, had been to integrate American and TWA's workforces "over several months," using attrition, retirement and other means "to keep as many of you on the payroll as possible. Obviously, the events of September 11 changed all that."

Since those events, in which four planes were hijacked and crashed, the number of passengers flying has plummeted, leading President Bush to sign an industry bailout bill over the weekend.

"I know this news comes at a terrible time for you, as New Yorkers, as Americans, and as employees," Baker said. "I wish there were other options. But as you know, our company is in a state of emergency and is suffering an extraordinary financial crisis. These times demand immediate action."

The announcement means that the TWA name will be gone by the end of the year, said spokeswoman Julia Bishop-Cross. TWA was founded in 1930 by the merger of Western Air Express and Transcontinental Air Transport, and at one time was among the premier airlines in the world.


• American Airlines |

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